A Ghost of a Story

by 41EM

1924 Silver Ghost 41EM at Mont St Michel, Normandy, France

Having read Terry Walker’s very interesting and informative article on his sojourn in England last year [2002], it set me thinking about some of the trips my Master and Mistress* have taken me on, around the side roads of Britain and farther afield.

A while back I was taken on a trip to the Hendre, the ancestral home of Lord Llangattock and his son, the Hon C. S. Rolls. The grounds are now laid out as a golf course. The house, which is a most impressive edifice in red brick, had fallen on hard times but is being slowly renovated which should ensure its survival. It displays some lovely stone work, some of the more intricate aspects of which have decayed on one side (the garden front) due to exposure to the prevailing winds. My owners were staying at a lovely old hotel in Builth Wells in the middle of Wales with some friends for a week. I was in the company of 53PK and 2087E outside the main door of the hotel with Mack the lucky Labrador who only ever travels by Silver Ghost.

From there I made a quick dash across England with my hood down in appalling rain to Arundel to visit the new Rolls-Royce factory at Goodwood. These new Phantoms are an amazing feat of superb engineering put together in a partially underground factory more akin to the clinical atmosphere imagined in a pharmaceutical facility. The thought put into the design of the staff uniforms alone had my headlamps out on sticks! My carburettors boggled at the thought that all this has occurred in four years.

From here we meandered along the south coast then north to Exmoor (where I had a hiccup and was laid up for 24 hours). We then went on to Cardiff where 1 was to meet again a small group of 14 pre-war Rolls- Royces with whom I have become quite friendly. My owners had joined the Irish Georgian Society so they could visit many private stately homes during a long weekend. From there, I rushed us to Pembroke to catch a ferry to Ireland to meet a small group of WA enthusiasts due to dine at the world famous Ballymaloe House. I then had the pleasure of leading them on a very pleasant few days’ tour of the south-west of Ireland. The Bentleys in the group are still wondering what happened to them. They have now become familiar with the most varied assortment of small tracks in the countryside.

We now all headed for County Kildare to celebrate the Centennial of the 1903 Irish Gordon Bennett Race— the largest sporting event in the world to that date— over one million people attended— it was the precursor of the modern day Grand Prix. I had 212 other cars to view, including some that competed in the original 1903 event. This was a great weekend.

From there I guided our little group to Rosslare to sail to France and onto LeMans to see Bentley win the Twenty Four Hour Race. First and second – a magnificent and clockwork- like achievement. Bentley Motors provided us with parking at the Hippodrome where they had built a de-mountable hotel for the weekend. 100 beds. One receptionist was especially employed because of her linguistic ability to converse with the Moscow agent! Though I was ensconced all weekend in the paddock with all manner of Bentleys, my masters availed of the Company’s shuttle service to the track. It was their first visit after years of absence. They used to be regulars. They said it had not changed much as all the cars still had their characteristic sounds (US V8s. etc., though Bentley was almost silent— like the Derby’s of the Thirties. So unlike today’s Grand Prix).

From here we left our little group and headed to Poizieres where 20,000 died in one day in WW1— very sobering. I thought of my older brothers and sisters rushing dispatches to and from the front line by the Duke of Westminster and his team (34LB).

I then took them north to see the Irish stone round tower and Peace Park at Messines. A very moving place. We then headed north-west, to Dunkirk, a place of great loss for Rolls-Royce and Bentleys during WW11. Then it was back to England.

At this stage of the journey, my Mistress came down with whooping cough . So even though I enjoyed the company of vast numbers of Rolls- Royce and Bentleys at Towcester (RREC National Meet), she was not so enthralled. I did however meet my body maker’s daughter (Windovers) and my restorer from the late Sixties which thrilled us all greatly. His wife it turned out worked for WA Member John Markham in Howard Street in those days. The Markhams then owned my Brother 65UE. She was not known to the restorer in those times, having met each other in England many years later. It is indeed a small world.


*Jeremy and Breda Greene